PETALING JAYA: Global Bersih has called on the Election Commission (EC) to reform its overseas voting system, including the need for a longer campaigning period.
Global Bersih secretary-general Nirmala Devi Windgaetter said the NGO came up with the recommendations after studying the obstacles faced by overseas voters in the 13th and 14th General Elections.
"There was lack of information on how we (overseas voters) can vote, where to vote, and how to do it.
"Those were the major problems we faced, and in GE14 there was a lack of time.
"That is why the first thing that we are working on is for the campaign period to be longer.
"We also believe there is a need for a system that takes into account the limitations of overseas voters in terms of the distance and time it takes for the ballot papers to come back and the costs, " she said during a press conference on Friday (Aug 2).
According to Global Bersih, the proposal was based on a survey of 789 overseas Malaysians living in 248 cities worldwide.
It said the survey was carried out among Malaysians, aged 18 to 80, in January and February this year and also included discussions with the EC, Election Reform Committee and the Foreign Ministry.
Nirmala said there was a need to redefine the legal status of overseas Malaysian voters to ensure that their right to vote from their country of residence is enshrined in the Election Regulations.
She said this right should not be subject to the discretion of the EC.
Among the recommendations for reforms ahead of the 15th General Election are an extension of the campaign period to 25 days to accommodate overseas postal voting system and the establishment of an ongoing uniform overseas voting process.
It also recommended that Malaysians residing in Singapore, Brunei, Kalimantan, southern Thailand, as well as Sabahans and Sarawakians living in West Malaysia and West Malaysians living in Sabah and Sarawak, to be included in the overseas postal voting system.
It also proposed the setting-up of a centralised overseas voting office at the EC to handle all matters and queries related to overseas voting process.
In the longer term beyond GE15, Global Bersih suggested that Malaysian foreign missions be allowed to collect overseas postal ballots and sending them to the EC by diplomatic bag, whether they be printable postal ballots electronically e-voting.
Global Bersih president Bala Chelliah said the proposal had been sent to the EC on Aug 1.
Global Bersih is an international network of Malaysians living overseas and an advocacy arm of Bersih 2.0.